DocuSign's Motivating Checklist and Activation-Focused Onboarding

April 18, 2019
User onboarding

DocuSign's eSignature platform makes it easy to sign, send, and receive secure electronic signatures on paperless forms and contracts. For signers, that means no more stealing into the office early to use the company HP or pestering that one friend who still buys toner. For businesses, that means faster turnaround time on sales contracts, vendor agreements, onboarding docs, etc.

this is a screenshot image of a welcome modal dialog window from docusign's onboarding flow. the modal says "welcome to docusign" and includes 3 icons with ux copy and a yellow start button


Their user onboarding experience is split into two main sections:

  • A guided walkthrough to accelerate the process of adding and sharing a document for the first time
  • An onboarding checklist that takes new users through the remaining steps of the onboarding process

Right after signing up, you're presented with a fullscreen modal dialog  prompting you to add a new document. The modal has a single CTA button to begin the onboarding sequence (fewer choices = faster decisions) and a close button, in case you want to skip onboarding altogether.

this is a screenshot image of docusign's onboarding walkthrough showing an empty state drag and drop field for adding new documents


Progress bars help users feel like they're approaching a goal and keeps them motivated to complete the process. DocuSign uses a progress indicator in the blue bar at the top of each screen, showing you how much progress you've made and how far you have left to go.

DocuSign uses the same bold yellow color on all its “clickable” UI elements. The standard fields on the left side of the document editor, for example, can be dragged onto the document to indicate where recipients need to enter information.

this is a screenshot image of a sample document in docusign's onboarding process that shows clickable ui elements on the lefthand side of the screen and an example document


After you upload you first document, a sleek onboarding checklist appears, listing six steps you must complete as part of the onboarding flow. People's brains love checklists, and pre-checking some of the items signifies that users are getting closer to completion, even though they've only just started. Here, 2 of the 6 items have already been checked off.

this is a gif image of a user onboarding checklist that helps motivate users to complete account setup

Clicking on an unchecked item on the list takes you straight to that onboarding step via an animated transition. Each step opens as a modal, meaning the checklist is always present behind it, which keeps you grounded in the onboarding experience as you set up different product features.

this is a gif image of a user onboarding checklist that helps motivate users to complete account setup

If you close the checklist before completing all the steps, that nice gradient progress bar from the checklist appears at the top of the page, letting you jump straight back in at any point.

this is an image of docusign's onboarding process. this is a success message that says "success! you sent your first document".

Things we liked:

  • DocuSign has clearly identified their activation event—sending and receiving electronically signed documents—and focused their onboarding around getting new uses to that moment. The onboarding experience starts off hyper-focused on a single goal—sending a document to be signed—that brings new users closer to achieving value.
  • A sleek checklist that makes it easy to move through the features without losing the onboarding context.
  • Progress bars provide motivation throughout the onboarding process.
  • Users are able to jump in and out of the onboarding checklist at any time.

Things we'd like to see next:

  • All the CTAs are the same color—differentiating the “Next” buttons from the upsell CTA, for example, could help improve focus on the task at hand (since it's unlikely that most users will be looking to “Buy Now” during their initial onboarding)
  • We'd love to see a little more guidance—in the form of tooltips and hotspots—to guide users through the uploading process and introduce them to the key features they'll need in the future.
  • More visual contrast would help the progress indicator that appears during the upload process stand out, and increase the impact of that element during a user's critical first moments in the product.
  • While we love that clicking on a checklist item takes you straight to that feature, more could be done to help new users familiarize themselves with DocuSign's primary interface, which they'll need to interact with post-onboarding.
  • That lovely success message gets lost behind the checklist. Instead of dropping users straight onto the next step, DocuSign could reward users with a congratulatory modal after they send their first document—and then introduce the checklist feature while folks are feeling motivated.